MORTON - Joal Thomas Stanfield, 35, of Morton passed away and stepped into his eternal life in heaven at 6:28 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, at UnityPoint Health-Methodist in Peoria, after suffering a medical trauma five days earlier.
Joal was born July 23, 1979, in Peoria to Gary and Gloria (Giordano) Stanfield. He grew up in a family full of love with four other siblings. He proudly and excitedly married the love of his life, Kiyle Lopotko, on Dec. 28, 2002.
Those who love him most and will anxiously await being reunited with him in heaven someday are his wife, Kiyle, of Morton and their three adoring children, Samdon, 7, Adah, 5, and Finch, 22 months; his parents, Gary and Gloria Stanfield of Morton; his siblings, April (Joe) Hengst of Tremont, Brice (Jackie) Stanfield of Bloomington, Jill (Eric) Larson of Muscatine, Iowa, and Joni (Eric) Stevenson of Lafayette, Ind.; his grandmother, Madelyn Stanfield of Joliet; his father-in-law, William Lopotko (Cheryl Vahling); his sisters-in-law, Kedra (Bill) Smith and Shae (Scott) Harris; and his brother-in-law, Seth (Kelly) Lopotko.
He also is survived by 17 nieces and nephews who will greatly miss their fun, loving Uncle Joal.
He was welcomed into the open arms of Jesus, and many loved ones in Heaven, including grandparents, Donald Stanfield, Samuel and Joan Giordano; Kiyle's grandparents, Fritz and Marlyn Millard; and Kiyle's mom, Kris Lopotko.
Joal's love for and from Jesus Christ filled him up to overflowing love for all those around him. His wife and children were his number one joy and priority here on this earth, and he gave them the gifts of his endless time, love, laughter and energy.
Joal loved to learn new things and took to woodworking in recent years, often making beautiful furniture for their home with his own loving hands. He and his family attended Harvest Bible Chapel in East Peoria.
Joal worked as a third-grade teacher in East Peoria District 86 from 2004 to 2011 before coming to Morton District 709, where he had also been the head boys high school tennis coach for 10 years. Joal also created and grew the ACE (Attitude Character Effort) tennis summer camps in Morton for the past 15 years, and worked at the Country Club of Peoria as their head tennis professional for a couple of years. While it is clear that Joal was an excellent instructor of both academics and tennis, it was his genuine love for each individual he taught that set him distinctly apart. Joal had an uncanny ability to bring a smile to anyone's face with his own warm smile, contagious laugh, funny stories and encouraging words. He also lived Philippians 4:5 - his gentleness was evident to all. People were drawn to Joal. He spoke life into those around him and had great hope for his dreams and the dreams of others. He worked happily and determinedly alongside so many to help them pursue and accomplish their visions.
In between time with his family, teaching and coaching, Joal still made time to have fun with and help his dear friends - both old and new. Joal chose to be present in the moment and therefore lived a joyful, exciting life of loving and serving. While he was a man of many interests, gifts and passions, his greatest passion by far was to be an ambassador of the love that he received through faith in Christ. Many of us will always smile and think of Joal as we pass a tennis court, see a Cubs game, go fishing, tubing or skiing, play pingpong or a great practical joke - but may his lasting legacy and inspiration be that he loved with Christ's love. And because he did, we know the Lord said, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Services to remember and celebrate Joal and the life he lived so well will begin with visitation from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 1, 2014, at Harvest Bible Chapel, 401 Cimmeron Drive, East Peoria. Services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2, at the church, with Pastor Tim Harkness and Pastor Kent Smith officiating. Burial will be in Hirstein Cemetery in Morton.
Knapp-Johnson Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Morton is handling arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to a fund established to bless and provide for Joal's wife and children.
Please direct donations to CEFCU in Morton under the account "FBO (For Benefit of) Joal Stanfield Family."
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.knappjohnson.com.